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The police said in Colombo on Monday that a former Maldivian minister and several politicians of the ruling party in Sri Lanka were arrested after a child sex trade was broken, including dozens of people.
The Sri Lankan police stated that two websites were used to sell underage girls for sex, and added that they found the phone records of at least one 15-year-old girl who was allegedly raped many times.
According to Sri Lankan law, having sexual relations with anyone under the age of 18 is considered rape and is punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment.
Ajith Rohana, Deputy Inspector General of the Sri Lanka Police said:
We have 32 people in custody, 22 of whom are known to have sex with minors.
The arrested person has not yet been charged by the police.
The owners of the two websites and the former Minister of Finance of the Maldives, Mohamed Ashmali, were detained.
Other arrested include a ruling party politician, a Buddhist monk, a well-known gem dealer and a merchant navy captain in the north-central region of Sri Lanka.
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A court official told AFP that Ashmali appeared in court in Colombo on Monday and was remanded until July 16.
His lawyer claimed that Ashmalee only planned to book an essential oil massage after seeing an online advertisement and was unaware of any minor associations.
Sri Lanka introduced a strict child protection law in 1995, after previous reports of sexual exploitation of minors, especially in tourist resort areas.